Osborn: “I don’t have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out!”

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the inconsistency between the climate community’s desire to rebuild trust and CRU/East Anglia’s continuing refusal of FOI requests, most recently for the 2006 version of the Yamal regional chronology. The moral of that post was that providing such information – even if they didn’t “have” to – was the sort of small concession that the community should willingly make as a means of “rebuilding trust” as opposed to the polarization caused by refusals that merely lead to further FOI appeals.

Given their refusal to make even the smallest concession voluntarily, today’s post is going to be more pointed and will directly address issues of hypocrisy and mendacity that are directly raised by the most recent CRU/East Anglia refusal.

Climate Audit readers are well aware that CRU fought the archiving of measurement data of Taimyr, Yamal and Tornetrask for years and were ultimately brought to heel only by Phil Trans B, a journal that had broader interests than climate and required them to archive measurement data.

After arguing for years against the archiving of measurement data, CRU now claims, at least for FOI purposes, that a regional chronology is “incomplete” without accompanying metadata (such as measurement data) and that they are thus entitled to EIR exemption 12(4)(d) for “incompleteness”.

I absolutely agree that a chronology is incomplete without accompanying measurement data. Indeed, I tried unsuccessfully to get CRU to archive measurement data for their most important chronologies (Taimyr, Tornetrask, Yamal), but CRU resolutely refused to archive the measurement data. One thing that is definitely “complete” is the hypocrisy and two-facedness of CRU and the University of East Anglia.

Their hypocrisy obviously invited the re-examination of their past refusals of measurement data, on which I’ll report below. The re-examination of their past excuses is infuriating, to say the least. But worse, unfortunately, is that re-examination of these refusals, in my opinion, reveals outright lies by Tim Osborn of CRU (also an IPCC AR5 Lead Author) both to Sciencemag and to me. In particular, Osborn’s claims that he was not in possession of the requested measurement data are contradicted by Climategate emails, Climategate documents and, most recently, by information in the FOI refusal itself.

The validity of the Yamal chronology and its use in multiproxy reconstructions has been core CA issue and has been discussed in many CA posts over the years – see here.

Later in the post, I will review my efforts to get measurement data for CRU’s Taimyr, Tornetrask and Yamal chronologies, CRU’s repeated refusals and Science’s acquiescence in their refusal.

But first, here is a remarkable statement used to claim the “incompleteness” exemption:

We maintain [2] that a completed composite [SM: a "chronology"] is not just a series of data but also includes the associated metadata descriptors; this would include formal written explanation of how the composite was derived along with a candid critique of its value. In this sense the composite that you have requested is not complete.

In their Footnote [2], they stated that the requisite “associated metadata” included measurement data and that “good practice” in the field is to archive measurement data (“raw measurements”) and cross-dating information at ITRDB (NOAA/paleo).

Support for our position is provided by considering previous practice in the field. While not universal, good practice is to provide associated metadata and explanation, For example, chronologies published at the ITRDB usually include the chronology series, the raw measurements, cross-dating metadata e.g http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/metadata/noaa-tree-2811.html) together with the standardisation metadata (for the same example chronology ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/paleo/treering/updates/schweingruber/chronologies/id007/id007w_out.txt). Additionally, the publication of chronologies in the peer-review literature have been accompanied by a broad presentation of the chronology production, interpretation and limitations (e.g. Briffa et al, 1996, among many others.)

Their example of ‘good practice” (noaa-tree-2811) was a 1983 Briffa chronology that was not used in the multiproxy reconstructions and which was archived at ITRDB only a few years ago – over 20 years after being collected.

Had Briffa similarly archived the chronology, measurement data and crossdating information for Taimyr, Tornetrask and Yamal – either when Briffa 2000 was published or even in 2006 – much recent controversy would have been avoided.

However, CRU did not do so. Nor did they provide the “formal written explanation of how the composite was derived along with a candid critique of its value” now said to be a prerequisite for a chronology being “complete”. Briffa 2000, the original publication and only publication of the three canonical chronologies, merely stated:

The other three regional series in Fig. 1 (e-g)[Yamal, Tornetrask, Taimyr], all represent continuous 2000-yr series of ring-width data, all from near-tree-line regions in northern Eurasia, and here all reprocessed in a consistent fashion to preserve maximum long-timescale changes.

In 2006, when I started looking more closely at the “other” reconstructions that supposedly supported the MBH hockey stick – over six years after publication of Briffa 2000 – measurement data for Tornetrask, Taimyr and Yamal remained unarchived. Nor had CRU even archived the chronologies at ITRDB; they were instead archived only at Briffa’s website.

In February 2006, Osborn and Briffa published an article in Science, in which these three chronologies were once again applied. Results from Osborn and Briffa 2006 were used in IPCC AR4 (where Briffa was Lead Author of the corresponding section). Shortly after publication of Osborn and Briffa 2006, I asked Sciencemag for the measurement data for the tree ring sites used in Osborn and Briffa 2006, including Taimyr, Tornetrask and Yamal as follows:

For each of the tree ring sites analysed… an exact data citation to a public archive (e.g. WDCP) for the data set used; or, in the alternative, an archive of the data set at the Science website. In cases, where the publicly archive dataset for a site is related to but different from the version used by Osborn and Briffa, please archive the data set as used.

At the time, Sciencemag was reeling from the Hwang fraud and was temporarily responsive to data requests. They worked hard and successfully in getting data even from Esper as discussed in CA posts at the time. They responded by providing some unsmoothed series also included in my request (and which should have been archived), but did not provide the measurement data. So, on Feb 23, 2006, I re-iterated my request:

Two sites (#9 – Tornetrask; #13 – Mongolia) have WDCP measurement archives (swed019; mong003 respectively), but there are inconsistencies between the data as archived and the length of the Osborn and Briffa versions.
d) the WDCP archive for Tornetrask ends in 1990, which is inconsistent with the Osborn version which ends in 1993. This indicates that the data sets are not the same.

For the following 5 sites, no archive of the measurements exists at all – a direct breach of Science’s archiving policy:
f) Jasper/Icefields, Boreal, Upper Wright, Taimyr, Yamal,
Accordingly, I re-iterate my request that the measurement data consistent with the archived site chronologies be archived for each of the above items 2(a)- 2(f),

The letter was polite and concluded:

Obviously there has been some inadequate housekeeping in the past. I can understand this and my concern is not with the past. My concern is with the present. You have an opportunity to remedy the situation now and no one will criticize Science for ensuring that paleoclimate authors meet Science’s data archiving policies. On the other hand, you will be justly criticized both by me and others if you don’t do so.

The Climategate dossier shows that this email was forwarded to Osborn with the comment:

We would like to have your confidential response to this request, keeping in mind the stated policy of SCIENCE that “Any reasonable request for materials, methods, or data necessary to verify the conclusions of the experiments reported must be honored

On March 3, 2006 (666. 1141737742.txt) – this was the time of the NAS panel hearings – Osborn replied, categorically refusing to provide the measurement data. Osborn stated: “we are not obliged to provide the data that would enable the research reported in other papers to be checked, even if we cite those other papers or use results reported in those other papers”:

thank you for your patience while waiting for our reply. Before responding to the specific data requests, we would like to say that it is our view that we should provide sufficient data to enable all the main elements of our analysis to be checked, but that we are not obliged to provide the data that would enable the research reported in other papers to be checked, even if we cite those other papers or use results reported in those other papers. You will see how this view has determined our response to some of the requests.

In respect to my specific requests for Taimyr, Yamal and Tornetrask, Osborn stated:

(d-f) The original studies that we cite are definitely correct for these two records. We have provided sufficient data for our analysis of these records to be checked. We have not provided extra data to enable other people’s studies to be checked, nor do we feel obliged to do so.

The “other papers” in question were not papers by “other” authors but by CRU themselves (Briffa 2000) – a point that Science either did not understand or care about. Osborn’s refusal to provide measurement data obviously stands in sharp counterpoint to CRU/East Anglia’s present stance that a chronology is only “complete” when accompanied by measurement data.

Science thanked them for their “quite satisfactory” response. On March 17, Hanson replied to me, attaching one gridcell temperature series provided by Osborn (also several files from Esper that had been grudgingly provided after about 20 emails.) They did not forward Osborn’s commentary responding to my request (this was first available in Climategate.) Hanson incorrectly stated:

The tree ring data are archived also at the NOAA ITRDB (at least several that I checked but I haven’t gone through each one; e.g., the pol site [this refers to an Esper series] not included here is there).

Hanson’s statement that the requested tree ring data (and, in particular, the Taimyr, Yamal and Tornetrask measurement data) was simply untrue. I immediately responded:

While you stated that “The tree ring data are archived also at the NOAA ITRDB (at least several that I checked but I haven’t gone through each one; e.g., the pol site not included here is there)”, I can assure you that (1) not all the data is at the ITRDB site…

I accordingly once again requested the measurement data used by CRU for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Taymir and Athabaska. On March 30, (680. 1143819006.txt), Hanson submitted this re-iteration to Osborn, including the following excerpt from my request:

In 4 cases, the Osborn site chronology differs from the Esper site chronology, although in the other cases the versions are identical. In some cases, the date ranges do not match. I do not believe that it is possible to replicate the Osborn version from the Esper measurement data in these 4 cases and surmise that Osborn used a different measurement data set. I therefore request measurement data used by Osborn for the following sites: Polar Urals, Tornetrrask, Taymir and Athabaska.

Once again, Osborn refused to provide the requested measurement data, this time in even more remarkable language:

The other three series [Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Taimyr] are covered in our paragraph (c)[from the SI to Osborn and Briffa 2006], “The data sets contain some non-identical tree-ring series derived from the same sites; we have favoured series from (S3) {Briffa 2000] because they are based on a greater number of tree core measurements than the series generated by (S1)”[Esper et al 2002]. So we clearly did not use the Esper et al. data (S1) and it should also be clear that the series we did use can not be reproduced using the Esper et al. data because they are “non-identical” and there are fewer tree cores in the Esper et al. data. The source we gave for these three series is Briffa (2000).

We did not use tree-core measurement data in our paper, only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others from core measurement data. I don’t have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out! And in my first reply I explained why I didn’t think that this was appropriate anyway, since I consider that our obligation is limited to providing data to allow the replication of the steps reported in our paper, none of which involved any processing of core measurement data. [my bold]

Let’s pause at this paragraph. Unlike the earlier email, Briffa (2000) is mentioned. However, once again, Osborn told Science that the “chronologies [Taimyr, Tornestrask and Yamal]… had previously been assembled by others from core measurement data”. This was untrue. The three chronologies had been calculated at CRU. Osborn compounded the untruthfulness by saying that he didn’t “have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out”. However, the Climategate dossier contained measurement data for all three sites with timestamps dating back to the 1990s. The measurement data had been used in the original chronology calculations, which, after all, had not been done by “others”, but by CRU itself. In addition, the Climategate email (684. 1146252894.txt) at issue in the FOI request was only a few weeks later (Apr 28, 2006) and referred to calculating a URALS/Yamal regional chronology, the calculation of which was admitted in the recent FOI refusal, where CRU says that work by Osborn and CRU on the regional chronologies was ongoing through 2005, 2006 and 2007. Osborn’s assertion to Science that he didn’t “have any core measurement data and therefore have none to give out!” was untrue.

The email also shows that Osborn’s earlier argument that CRU had no obligation to provide supporting measurement data was not a temporary aberration. Osborn clearly stated once again that CRU did not regard itself as having any obligation to provide measurement data in support of even their own chronologies.

On April 17, not having heard back from Hanson, I sent a reminder email, acknowledged immediately by Hanson who said that he had been on holidays. On April 21, Hanson reverted, this time clearly acquiescing in the absurd CRU suggestion that I contact the “original authors” for the measurement data:

The other three series [Yamal, Tornetrask, Taimyr] contain some non-identical tree-ring series derived from the same sites; thus the series they used can not be reproduced using the Esper et al. data; there are fewer tree cores in the Esper et al. data. The source for these three series is Briffa (2000). Osborn and Briffa did not not use raw tree-core measurements, only chronologies that had previously been assembled by others, and these have been deposited. You may want to contact those original authors or those publications if you require their raw data.

On April 28, I followed up with the “original authors” emailing Osborn:

…Science said that you did not directly use the measurement data for Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Yamal and Taimyr, but chronologies previously published and therefore took no responsibility for obtaining this data, directing me back to you or to the original journal.

While I disagree with this decision and may pursue it with Science if necessary, to simplify matters would you voluntarily provide the measurement data used for the above sites in calculating the chronology in Briffa [2000]. Thanks, Steve McIntyre

A couple of weeks later (May 11), not having received a reply on this matter from Osborn, I appealed Hanson’s absurd decision that an eminent journal like Science would not require a complete chain of data (thus requiring me to plead with the “original authors” even if the “original” authors and the Science authors were the same) as follows:

I requested 4 measurement data sets (Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Taymir and Athabaska). Osborn and Briffa appear to have refused this data and you referred me to the “original authors” or the original journals [see April 21, 2006 email]. In the case of three of these data sets (Polar Urals, Tornetrask, Taymir), the “original author” was Briffa (2000). You have presented me with a distinction without a difference. While I have contacted the “original author” (Briffa) for this information, there is little prospect that he will provide the information except under a direction from Science. I see no reason why Science should countenance an author hiding behind a prior publication in a lesser journal with weaker archiving policies. I request that Science take a broad view of its data archiving policies in this case and that Science does not permit authors to take legalistic approaches to avoid supplying data. I ask that you require authors, who have used results from a “non arms length” publication which has not been properly archived, to meet Science’s policies for all non-arms length data. I therefore request that you require Osborn and Briffa to produce measurement data from Briffa (2000), used to produce results applied in Osborn and Briffa 2006.

On May 19, Hanson rebuffed this request one more time:

If you require data from papers published elsewhere, you should contact those authors and journals.

On May 23, Osborn finally responded to my April 28 email (the one in which I had asked him to voluntarily provide the measurement data), saying (untruthfully) to me, as he had already to Science, that he did not have a “copy” of the measurement data:

Steve – Science are correct to say that I “did not directly use the measurement data for” those sites. [Taimyr, Yamal, Tornetrask]. Not only did I not use them, I don’t actually have a copy of them. So I cannot help you.

On May 23, considering the possibility that Osborn had given a Gavinesque response to my question (e.g. perhaps Briffa, as opposed to Osborn, had the data), I emailed Briffa, copying Hanson, asking him for the measurement data.

Hanson replied as follows:

no, we don’t have the data. We’re not in the business of holding data from other publications; so if we had it, i’d have of course sent it along. I’ve sent you what i’ve obtained.

Briffa replied promptly, promising to “pass [my] message” on:

Steve, these data were produced by Swedish and Russian colleagues – will pass on your message to them. cheers Keith

I “thanked” Briffa, but, needless to say, was dubous that he would live up to his promise to pass the message on or that anything would come of this (and nothing did.) I doubt that Briffa actually did pass the message on. Shortly afterwards, the NAS panel reported, then there were hearings at the House Energy and Commerce Committee and my efforts to get the measurement data waned.

In 2008, Andrew Montford observed that Phil Trans B (which had just published Briffa et al 2008, containing regional chronologies for Taimyr, Yamal and Tornetrask) had excellent data policies and that there was another chance to try to get the measurement data. I submitted a request to Phil Trans B, who took it seriously; they required CRU to archive the measurement data for the three sites. CRU stalled another year and the measurement data only became available in September 2009, a couple of months before Climategate.

Access to the measurement data immediately led to a controversy, that lingers to this day. I’ll discuss this more in light of comments in the FOI refusal in a further post. (Jul 26 – As CA readers know, the Yamal version archived in Sep 2009 was the same as a Yamal version that I had received from Hantemirov in 2004, a point that I reported at the time. Because different versions of measurement data sets exist, I try to take care that I get the version used in a particular study. Readers will recall Mann’s 2003 accusation that I had used the “wrong” data – a long story discussed here before. There was no reason why I should try to guess whether the Hantemirov dataset was the version that Briffa had used. If Briffa had simply said that he used the Hantemirov dataset that I had been sent in 2004, then that would have settled the Yamal provenance. However, Taimyr and Tornetrask remained outstanding and highly relevant to the later Yamal analysis.)

The moral of today’s post are the points of my introduction. I agree that a chronology is “incomplete” without accompanying measurement data and that “good practice” requires the archiving of measurement data together with a chronology. I’ve urged these practices for many years.

It is offensive that CRU/East Anglia should now falsely claim that, as an institution, they’ve observed “good practices”, not because they’ve adhered to these practices, but merely as a pretext to avoid FOI compliance.

Nor in the case at hand would their newfound concern with “good practice” validate their use of the FOI exemption. The most important metadata for the regional chronology are the list of sites and the measurement data. By their own admission in the FOI response, the list of sites is “complete” and the measurement data is already online (and thus available given the list of sites).

The 2006 regional chronology that they refused to provide on the grounds that it is “incomplete” is already far more “complete” than the Yamal, Taimyr and Tornetrask chronologies were when used and illustrated in IPCC AR4. CRU/East Anglia’s new concern for “good practice” should be seen for what it is – one more excuse for obstructing data access.

And as noted above, one really wonders at their wisdom in provoking re-examination of their past history of refusals. As I said in the introduction to this post, in my opinion, the history shows that Tim Osborn lied about not being in possession of the requested measurement data. (This is my opinion and, if someone can provide an alternative explanation of his statements that does not involve lying, I’ll willingly consider the explanation, apologize and amend the post.)


  1. Doug Proctor
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 5:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It goes on and on and on. “Never apologize, never explain.” Stonewalling is such an effective tool in a passive-aggressive’s hands.

    UEA is spending foolish money on a PR firm to rehabilitate, i.e. get those funders back in the grid, precisely because you, dominantly, refuse to let the dogs lie.

    Except for the fact that your blood pressure must constantly be high, and the neighbours object to the sound of you banging your head of the wall, I’d say that your effects are excellent.

  2. Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 5:49 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Steve, para 25 or so starts “”Let’s pause at this paragraph”” Has year 3007 rather than 2007.

    • BillyBob
      Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “The validity of the Yamal chronology and its use in multiproxy reconstructions has been cor CA

      should be: “a core CA”

  3. Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 6:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just as the market can stay foolish longer than a contrarian investor can stay solvent, the CRU and their backers and adherents know that their strategy has a good chance of being ultimately successful.

    All they have to do is continue what they are doing. Eventually the Steve McIntyre’s of the world will retire or abandon the search. They can and are thinking in terms of a 30-year war. If it lasts that long, they will almost certainly be victorious.

    Made any succession plans lately, Mr. McIntyre?

    • Gil Grissom
      Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 11:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

      snip – policy

  4. Nicholas
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 6:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Does this mean that the studies which use Taimyr, Tornetrask and Yamal are invalid because they are based on “incomplete data”?

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, but I’m sure they’re still convinced that the results are “robust”.

      • Nicholas
        Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 7:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

        They are trying to have their cake and eat it too. Supposedly, the data is complete enough for use in their study but not complete enough to be released. Sounds fishy to me.

        Anyway it sounds like they were finally pressured to release this data but only the debacle harmed the Team’s reputation.

  5. TAC
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 7:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve–reading your account of this episode _is_ infuriating; you have my sympathy. The “climate” issue for me, and many others, is no longer about CO2 levels in the atmosphere (something there may be good reason to worry about) but rather about the corrupt behavior of CRU, Osborn, Mann, Hansen, etc. It is hard to ignore the compelling message they deliver through their misdeeds.

  6. theduke
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 7:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I have never seen people act like they so obviously have something very damaging to hide. Never.

  7. Bernie
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 7:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Excellent summary. It also illustrates by the to and fro between you and Osborn, Briffa and Hanson that any issue of trust or mistrust emerges as a result of interactions between parties where that which should be readily provided as demonstrations of candor, transparency and openness are absent. This is the dynamic that Jean Goodwin needs to come to terms with. Somebody is clearly avoiding the truth.
    Your chronology puts the spotlight on Osborn as a key player in what amounts to a tragedy.

  8. Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 8:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Perhaps Science should try a new name, for better communication:

    Sorta Science



    • RichieRich
      Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 4:02 AM | Permalink | Reply


  9. pesadia
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Phil Jones in particular, has managed to drag his university down from the gutter and into the drain. The so called team are guilty of unacceptable, mendacious and intolerable behavior.
    I am pleased to see that you appear to have abandoned the phrase “untruth” in favour of plain speaking.
    Fortunately for us and unfortunately for them, they appear to have seriously underestimated your staying power. If only I was 50 years younger,(oh well).
    You must be cursing whoever put that leaflet in your letterbox but thousands of us are appreciative of your efforts and we all feel the FRUSTRATION. Don’t know how you do it.

  10. Ron Cram
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 8:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am pleased to see CRU has defined “good practice” in the field as including archiving data and metadata. It might be interesting to see what percentage of CRU papers meet their own requirements for “good practice.” Somehow I bet the percentage is quite low, especially if one looks at the subset of papers cited most glowingly in IPCC assessments.

  11. Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 8:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Obfuscation seems to be the name of Osborn’s game. I was reminded of this a few days ago when (for some reason or other), I decided to take a second look at some of the Muir Russell “evidence” – in particular the creative writing exercise conducted by Briffa and Osborn in “response“* (using the word very loosely) to Boulton’s butchery of David Holland’s submission.

    * This response is listed as document 0120. The date on this colourful [pls. see the "Annex" in this .pdf] creative writing exercise is 19/05/2010 and bears the title “RESPONSE TO SPECIFIC QUESTIONS RAISED BY PROFESSOR GEOFFREY BOULTON,IN HIS LETTER OF 6 MAY 2010, IN HIS ROLE AS A MEMBER OF THE MUIR-RUSSELL REVIEW TEAM”, while the “Evidence” page on the review site displays it as:

    Date: 06/05/10
    Type: Written evidence
    Number: 0120
    Author: Responses from Keith Briffa and Timothy Osborn to questions from Geoffrey Boulton on Review membership

    Such discrepancies might lead one to conclude that perhaps obfuscation is not only Osborn’s game, but that of the Muir Russell “team”, as well. But I couldn’t possibly comment ;-)

  12. Neville
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 10:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It surely ought to be clear by now that:

    (a) The senior people at CRU today simply cannot afford ever to have the record of what they have been doing over the past 25 years appear and be examined, because it contains so many repeated fudges and sophomoric errors their reputations could not survive the revelation for even a month.

    (b) They stand between two audiences, one of which wants to subject their work to scrutiny and another that will heap them with honors as long as it remains possible to ignore their errors. Is it any surprise which audience they are determined to pander to?

  13. Hector M.
    Posted Jul 25, 2011 at 10:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Since we are talking about a public institution like UEA, and FOI requests are a serious matter regulated by law and under the jurisdiction of specific public officials, I wonder whether one can lie (or more neutrally, insert falsehoods) while dealing with FOI requests, without incurring a crime.

    Steve: it wasn’t framed as an FOI request (though it arguably should have been treated by UEA as a request for information). In any event, we discussed FOI law in previous posts and I refer you to them rather than discussing it again. There’s a 6-month statute of limitations on FOI offences. The conduct may also constitute academic misconduct, which does not, to my knowledge, have a statute of limitations.

  14. Gilbert
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 12:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry for the o/t, but for some reason, my browser (Firefox 5.0) doesn’t display the comments. They pop up briefly, then disappear. Any ideas?

    • Alan Esworthy
      Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 12:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Gilbert – I also use Firefox 5 and do not have the same trouble you’re having. If you use NoScript or a similar add-on, it may be interfering. Try temporarily allowing scripts and see what happens.

      But you’re probably not able to see this suggestion! )-:

  15. Ray Mears
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 2:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    thomaswfuller (particularly) “For great is truth, and shall prevail” Thomas Brooks. Who was caught by the Act of Uniformity of 1662. I’m glad we only get a few decades; the repetitions would get stifling…

  16. Rob
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 3:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Wait a minute. I just realised that all this happened in 2006 ? Did I get this right, Steve ?

    Steve: dates are correct

  17. raharries
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 7:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    By refusing to answer FOI requests the UEA makes it obvious that they have something to hide.

    Why does the ICO let them get away with it?

  18. golf charley
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 10:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I just googled Climate Reaearch Unit, and their front page, contains quotes from Oxburgh, Muir Russell etc saying how trustworthy and innocent they all were over Climategate, plus a graph showing no global warming this century, despite IPCC predictions based on CRU data. Curious

    Tim Osborne is listed as Reader, under staff, and Ian “Harry” Harris is credited as “data manipulator”

    It seems quite a few people depend on CRU for their living, aren’t any of them going to defend Tim O, and their Unit’s reputation?

    Or is there simply no data to support a defence?

  19. geo
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There are parts of this that are messy and tough contextually. I suspect that if Steve and Osborn were to draw competing Venn diagrams of the relationships between individuals, entities and data that they would not look the same.

    It does strike me as highly inappropriate that CRU gets to “switch context” so easily in saying on the one hand that data is complete enough to be used in peer reviewed academic literature and yet “incomplete” for FOIA purposes. That’s just flatly opportunistic parsing of language rather than a principled position.

  20. None
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 11:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “I doubt that Briffa actually did pass the message on.”

    In trying to get to the bottom if it, in yet another endless rehash of the arguments over here


    I emailed Hantemirov to ask, apparently he never received a request from Briffa (I included his entire reponse in the comments there). No surprise.

    I think it’s disgraceful the way these people have given you the runaround.

    PS Although everyone here knows it already (you should when bringing up this issue repeatedly state that “Yes I had the data, but I had at that point no way of knowing it was the exact same version of data Briffa used”, just to cut off at the pass the standard whine from the climate clan that you were asking for data you already had just to harass Briffa).

    Steve: Fair enough. I’ve added a short comment on this in the post.


    • ferd berple
      Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 8:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It reminds me of a short story years ago in which the civil service ran a pool to see who could tick off the public the most. At the end of the week everyone would tell their tales and the winner would get the pot. All and all it made for great entertainment to end the week on a high note.

      Now when a marketing agent calls for “Mrs Berple” I ask them to hold while I fetch her, as she is out in the garden. Every few minutes I pick up the line to assure them she is on her way, while proving a new excuse for the delay. It is amazing how long folks can be kept dangling.

      The clincher is to then cut yourself off mid sentence while explaining the delay. Few will believe you cut yourself off on purpose so they will try back. And of course as you explain, Mrs. Berple was at hand, but went back to the garden when the line was dropped. Please hold while I fetch her again.

  21. TomRude
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    OT: Think Progress goes to new lows:


  22. Eric Anderson
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “. . . re-examination of these refusals, in my opinion, reveals outright lies by Tim Osborn of CRU . . .”

    Steve, I have been following this site for several years and I have so many times felt that you should be this blunt, but you have instead been hesitant to say things too strongly, or to assign motives, always seeing another possible explanation for the poor behavior. This is somewhat frustrating for the reader who wants to see heads roll, but, ultimately, I think serves you well.

    However, it is good to see you call it like it is in this case, without sugar coating.

  23. Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    snip – venting

  24. Frank
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: There is no way CRU can restore trust by releasing the data you are requesting if that data will lead to the loss of even more trust. The logical conclusion is that CRU feels releasing the information will hurt their cause more than the publicity caused by their refusal. Hopefully, the FOI system will eventually cause them to lose for both reasons.

    The interesting question is why other scientists are willing to risk having their reputations tarnished and their work discounted. They are certainly running a big risk by having Tim Osborne continue as a lead author for AR5.

  25. bill
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 4:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Even though this is a 2006 issue, it is so interesting. What it demonstrates is people, so confident in their narrow academic expertise, so unworldly that they really thought public policy would be built on their pronouncements, and so aggrieved when challenged, that they were reduced to bluster. Which itself reduces their claim to expertness to absurdity.

  26. EdeF
    Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 7:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think the lack of cooperation by CRU in getting you the tree data for Yamal et al may have pushed the CRU
    insider over the edge and forced them to release the
    Climategate emails. Just my opinion.

  27. Posted Jul 26, 2011 at 8:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ll willingly consider the explanation, apologize and amend the post.

    It is my great hope that you get the opportunity.

    • Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 4:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      1. Has Mark Lynas noticed this one yet?

      2. How much tainting can the IPCC withstand before work on AR5 even begins?

      snip – OT

      • Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 6:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Even McIntyre believes there is some AGW.

        Why would you suggest that ALL research into AGW be defunded IPCC does not research it compiles and collates.

        Is there not even the slightest chance that we are modifying the climate, that CO2 release can continue unabated?
        Is it not essential that research continues, that the iron suns, the barycentres etc. be pushed to the back of peoples considerations?

        Steve: blog editorial policy, as you know, discourages trying to resolve OT big and generalized problems in 3 sentences as otherwise every thread becomes the same.

        • Neil Fisher
          Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

          Even McIntyre believes there is some AGW.

          As would anyone who honestly looks at the science.

          I do not understand why anyone would object to having such work reviewed, replicated and audited – after all, such a process is just as likely to find a mistake that underestimates the change as overestimates it, all things being equal (I personally do not believe that all things are equal, but that’s another story entirely).

          Make no mistake – this is not about whether the science is right or wrong, it is about openness and transparency for evidence used as the basis for public policy and the spending of public monies. Period. Do you object to this? If so, why? I ask because I cannot believe that any honest, hardworking person could or would object to such principles, but I am willing to consider any reasons you may put forward for ignoring what I feel is reasonable in such circumstances.

  28. John T
    Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I must be missing something.

    I don’t understand how a data set can be “complete” enough to use in a published article, but not “complete” enough to be subject to FOI requests.

    • Jimmy Haigh
      Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 5:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      That’s easy! THe peer review is much easier…

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 4:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I was refused access to proceedings from an Australian Government conference in Hobart late last year. The advertising blurb said the conference was suitable for students and people entering climate science. The rejection, via the Shadowm Minister for the Environment whom I’d asked for help, noted that the conference discussed concepts that were in development and therefore not suitable for the formality of distribution to the public. This is another small example of transparency. Propaganda for the youngsters, no meat for the elders.

  29. R.S.Brown
    Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 6:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Richard Black of the BBC puts his spin on EAU/CRU releasing the data requested by
    Professo Jonathan Jones, quantum computing specialist at Oxford University, and Don Keiller,
    biologist at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge.

    They demanded that the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) release data that had been sent to other researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, concerning weather stations from 30 degrees north to 40 degrees south of the equator – a belt around the world.

    Climate unit releases virtually all remaining data


    In a special little sidebar the BBC tossed in one of the arguements CRU tried on with the IOC
    and lost using it as a Trevor Davies quote, “This ruling might have unintended and potentially
    damaging consequences for international collaboration”

    Of course, the headline is misleading… this is only the data covered by the
    Jones and Keiler requests and the separate ICO rulings that ordered the data released. It
    doesn’t begin to cover all the data held by EAU/CRU.

  30. Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 7:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As usual, there’s no news at all. CRU still not sharing what they published about=>CRU still not doing any science.

    And they’ll never change their ways. Why should they? It’s not like Pachauri is screaming for full adherence to FOI, is it?

    UK climate science might be in the hands of the UK public pension system and its ability to get the old dogs move away with their old tricks.

  31. Faustino
    Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 8:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    BBC News online state that UEA have now released all CRU data following the Jonathan Jones FOI decision. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-14315747

    I have e-mailed the BBC as follows: Re your story on UEA’s release of data, you refer to Climategate as “when a batch of e-mails and other documents was stolen from a CRU server.” I am not aware of any information in the public domain to suggest that the material was “stolen” rather than released by a concerned insider, and the Norfolk police which investigated the affair have never stated that they regarded it as stolen. If you have evidence to the contrary, you should advise the police and publish it. If not, you should not claim that the material was stolen rather than released in the public interest without authorisation.

    • Faustino
      Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 5:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Richard Black from the BBC e-mailed me that: “The information I have indicates it was stolen.” He did not provide any details.

  32. jae
    Posted Jul 27, 2011 at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: You are definitely a saint in scientific circles. Thanks for your perseverance and integrity! WOW!

  33. kim
    Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 2:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    BBC reports
    Climate flood gates are broken.
    Harry, read me more.

  34. R.S.Brown
    Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 3:23 AM | Permalink | Reply


    A listing of the Freedom of Information requests received by the University of East
    Anglia’s Climate Research Unit and their status from 1 January 2005 until 22 December
    2009 can be found at:


    Please note: This information comes from CRU, However the introductory
    paragraphs specifically refer to the Freedom of Information Act but make no mention
    of requests made exclusively under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). The
    requestor did not include any EIR-based requests, so he got exactly what he asked for.

    Please also note the title of the University of East Anglia employee who sent
    the FOI response letter out to the requestor:

    Raymond Scott – Strategy Development Manager – University of East Anglia

    Strategy Development ? What was that about ?

    There seems to be no requests pending for an update.

  35. ferd berple
    Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 8:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Phil Jones has already told us why they don’t want to provide the data. Because they are afraid that it will be used to prove that the conclusions in the associated studies were in error.

    By simply withholding the data it remains impossible for anyone to prove the associated studies wrong. New studies with new data may contradict the earlier studies, but these new studies can always be argued against without any firm conclusion possible.

    The bigger question is why anyone in science would trust any study in which the data and methods were hidden? It should be automatic in science that papers that are submitted without the supporting data cannot pass peer review. Otherwise, how could the reviewer have check the results for accuracy?

    The same holds after a paper is published. If the data and methods are not provided, how can anyone recreate the results? If the results have not been recreated and validated, how can anyone trust the paper?

    Isn’t this discussion really about scientific standard – or in point of fact lack of standards in science? Standards are the very basis of trusted, reliable results in industry. It seems that science as practiced by academics has a long ways to go to catch up.

    • ferd berple
      Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 8:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

      For example, how many times in school and university were you required to “show your work” to receive full marks? If you simply wrote “42″ as the answer it wasn’t sufficient. You had to show how you arrived at 42.

      Don’t we have the same situation with the CRU? They have written study after study saying “the answer is 42″. When asked to “show their work” they have failed. Until they show their work, shouldn’t that be the grade that their papers receive? Failed.

      Isn’t that the grade they would give their students that “failed to show their work”? Why should professors not have to show their work when they require that their students show theirs? Does one suddenly acquire super human skills when made a professor such that mistakes are impossible and your work is held above question?

  36. pat
    Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 9:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    R.S. Brown -

    Raymond Scott involved here:

    UEA – ICT Contingency Plan – Top Level Plan
    Document Control Information

    • R.S.Brown
      Posted Jul 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply


      Many thanks for the link:


      In 21 pages the “Plan” tells us what happens in various scenarios of threat/damage to
      the computer/communications systems at the University of East Anglia.

      However, there isn’t a single word about why the “Strategy Development Manager” who was
      a co-author of the plan would be responding to any FOI/ERI requests to the Climate Research

      The “Plan” involves securing and/or restoring data and system funtionanlity, not the
      dissemination of information held within the system in compliance with FOI/ERI laws.

      If Raymond Scott was also the designated FOI officer for UEA, why isn’t he using that
      as part of his title when responding to FOI requests on behalf of his employer ?

      More ???

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